Call it the global shantytown. Or the global oneroomapartment on the wrong side of town.
The new socialmediaverse, and especially twitter, seem to be bringing us to a place where not only is the world getting smaller, but its already too damn small and can't somebody open up a stupid window already? Its starting to smell in here!
Take celebrety twitter accounts. I've been following @alyssa_milano and @brentspiner for a while now. The interesting thing about many celebreties on twitter is that they actually respond to people. The ultimate twitter celeb of course is Ashton Kucher @aplusk who limits himself to strategic responses and pushing some cause that has bubbled up high enough to need a big push. But some celebs, like Mr. Spiner and Ms., oh wait, Mrs. Milano are still working out how close they want to get to their armies of followers. Spiner actually gets criticized by some of his followers for wading in too deep and responding to too many @'s, that and his sarcastic responses. Then they publicly unfollow him out of spite. Meanwhile Milano touts various causes and responds a lot but also seems to take some of the negative comments very personally. Will a new generation of kids grow up expecting to be able to complain directly to their favourite actors on tv and legitimately expect answer? Do we want to live in that kind of a world?
Think about what it would be like, everyone on tv and movies, would just be, you know, some guy, that you can talk to and who would respond. Oh you didn't like the movie? That's ol' Tommy Cruise, he's down the hallway, third door on the left, go give him a piece of your mind. And you could.
It seems, superficially like this would be a good idea, a democratization of celebrity. It would remove the illusion that some people are better than others. To some extent, this is good, no one should feel that people on tv are better human beings than them. But it may also encourage us all to think that any one of us can be just as famous, rich or powerful when the reality is, we can't. Don't get me wrong, a lot of these famous people are famous because of luck. Luck of being in the right place at the right time, luck of being born to a rich family, or with perfect bone structure. There is also a lot of work. Working hard to get an acting job or become a successful politician is a different kind of hard than lifting boxes for 30 years, but its just different.
One thing is for sure, we can't all be famous. We can't, if we were all famous, then no one would be famous. People will always obsessing and gossiping over someone, there will always be famous people, and the rest of us who are not famous.
So where is this going? I'm as curious about the lives of these celebretiese as anyone, why am I following @alyssa_milano anyways? (actually, she had very insightful comments on the Iran Election, I'm not kidding) But I'm honest enough to admit that the reason I want to hear about them and possibly RT me is to make me feel a bit more famous, even though I don't really want to be famous. And as I watch them all try to deal with the startlingly direct access that Twitter gives you, I can't help but sympathize with the difficulty of their situation. They are just normal people in many ways. They've worked hard at their career and been very lucky and they have a responsibility to use that good fortune to help others. But now they are trying to take part of the new social internet and find they can't just be themselves and live in the same shantytown with all of us no matter how much they want to. It feels weird. It makes them normal and then people realize they're normal and get all angry because they aren't being nice and gracious to all the thousands and thousands of people that contact them. Twitter is a very personal technology, it somehow encourages you to let it all out and be yourself. There's no room for any pretense in 140 characters. So these celebrities are often being more personal with their fans and followers than is probably wise and sometimes its backfiring.
Hopefully the solution is somewhere in between them totally pulling back from social media and moving with us down the hall. As for all us plebes, we need to back off a bit and realize they are actually real people who can be offended and snipy and rude, especially with presumptuous strangers who think they deserve the best treatment just because they're 'fans'.
I always think, the coolest thing a fan can do when they see their favourite star is smile knowingly, look down and say 'cool', then walk away. Twitter needs a bit more of that right now